A survey of thousands of young Canadian students across the country found a "concerning pattern" of teenage boys seeking out pornography regularly, according to the non-profit organization MediaSmarts, while accounts of "sexting" were also commonplace.
The Ottawa-based digital literacy outfit, which was launched as a CRTC initiative in the 1990s, worked with schools and parents in each province and territory to conduct a wide-ranging survey with 5,436 students in grades 4 through 11 about their lives online. Questions about sexuality were limited to the older students in grades seven through 11.
Forty per cent of the boys admitted to looking for porn online, and the ones that did typically said they were frequently searching for it, says Matthew Johnson, director of education for MediaSmarts.
"There's a significant number of students, and boys obviously in particular, for whom it is a really frequent behaviour," says Johnson, noting a third of the boys who admitted to viewing porn said they did so daily, another third said they did so at least once a week, and almost one in five said it was at least once a month.
He says it's a concerning pattern to see the boys that are seeking out pornography are doing so at very high rates.
"They're still developing their sexuality, they're developing their ideas of what is normal in sex, they're developing a sexual identity and they're developing an idea of what is appropriate in relationships. So obviously heavy exposure to pornography can be problematic in all of these areas."
Broken down into grade groupings, about one in 10 of the seventh grade boys reported they looked for porn online, while nearly one in three eighth graders, almost half of the ninth graders, and close to two-thirds of the tenth and eleventh graders said the same.
Only seven per cent of the girls polled said they had sought out pornography online.
Almost one in ten students said they had sent a sext of themselves, while about one in four said they had received a sext. Boys were twice as likely to be sent a sext than girls.
Source: Vancouver Sun